Securing Spring Boot Applications With SSL

Engineering | Scott Frederick | June 07, 2023 | ...

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are key components of securing communications between systems in a layered or service-oriented architecture. Spring Boot applications in such an architecture often accept incoming network connections or create outgoing connections, and developers are tasked with configuring applications to work in such a secure environment.

If you've ever worked with the Java security and SSL APIs, you're probably aware that this is not a particularly fun task. It often involves multiple trips to to copy and paste code. There are a few factors that make working with SSL painful.

First off, you might be provided trust material such as certificates and private keys for production use. You might need to generate different trust material for pre-production testing (often using self-signed certificate authorities). This trust material is typically in the form of Java keystore files in either the JKS or PKCS #12 format, or they might be PEM-encoded text files. Each of these file types require different handling.

Once you have the trust material, you need to transform it into something that can be passed to Java connection APIs. Things can get difficult here because connection APIs can be configured in a variety of ways:

  • Some want you to provide keystore and truststore instances.
  • Some want you to provide and instances.
  • Some want you to provide a instance.

SSL is also pretty low-level, so you often need to peel back a few layers of abstraction to get to the thing that needs to be configured using objects from the or packages. For example, if you want to configure SSL on a Spring RestTemplate you need to get down to the ClientHttpRequestFactory that's backing it. For a typical Spring Boot application that could be an HttpComponentsClientHttpRequestFactory, OkHttp3ClientHttpRequestFactory or SimpleClientHttpRequestFactory. Each of these provide different configuration APIs.

Configuring connections to use SSL or TLS is not new to Spring Boot, but the team decided to take a holistic view of what was currently supported and look for opportunities to improve and expand support. We hope you will find that Spring Boot 3.1 makes SSL configuration much easier.

Introducing SSL Bundles

Spring Boot 3.1 introduces the concept of SSL bundles for configuring and consuming custom SSL trust material, such as keystores, certificates, and private keys. Once configured, a bundle can be applied to one or more connections using configuration properties or APIs.

Configuring SSL Bundles

Properties used to configure SSL trust material are under the spring.ssl.bundle prefix in an application.yaml or file. Two top-level groupings are available to reflect the unique information needed to configure trust material of different types.

  • spring.ssl.bundle.jks can be used to configure bundles using Java keystore files.
  • spring.ssl.bundle.pem can be used to configure bundles using PEM-encoded text files.

One or more bundles of each type can be configured, with each configured bundle given a user-provided name. The name is used when applying the bundle with properties or retrieving it with an API.

The following example application.yaml file shows the configuration of two SSL bundles. The first is named server and defines a Java Keystore file (in the PKCS #12 format) that could be used to secure an embedded web server. The second is named client and defines a trust store with a PEM-encoded certificate file that could be used to secure the client side of a connection to a server that requires client authentication.

            alias: "server"
            location: "classpath:server.p12"
            password: "secret"
            type: "PKCS12"
            certificate: "classpath:client.crt"

See the Spring Boot reference documentation as well as the JksSslBundleProperties and PemSslBundleProperties classes for more details on the available configuration properties.

Using Auto-configured SSL Bundles

Spring Boot uses the spring.ssl.bundle properties to create objects that provide access to the specified trust material.

As mentioned above, there are three levels of abstraction provided by the Java security and SSL APIs to expose trust material that has been read from either Java keystore or PEM files:

  • instances used as keystores and truststores.
  • and instances.
  • instances.

At the lowest level you might need truststore and keystore objects to apply SSL to a connection. These can be accessed using an SslStoreBundle interface as shown here:

public interface SslStoreBundle {

	KeyStore getKeyStore();

	String getKeyStorePassword();

	KeyStore getTrustStore();


KeyManager and TrustManager instances can be derived from a keystore and truststore. These can be accessed using an SslManagerBundle interface:

public interface SslManagerBundle {

	KeyManager[] getKeyManagers();

	KeyManagerFactory getKeyManagerFactory();

	TrustManager[] getTrustManagers();

	TrustManagerFactory getTrustManagerFactory();


Finally, an SSLContext can be created from a KeyManager and TrustManager and accessed with a createSslContext factory method.

Putting all this together, we have an SslBundle interface with access to the various different configuration styles:

public interface SslBundle {

	SslStoreBundle getStores();

	SslManagerBundle getManagers();

	SSLContext createSslContext() {


See the source code for the full list of methods in SslBundle.

The collection of configured SslBundles are made available in an SslBundles bean that can be auto-wired into other Spring beans:

public interface SslBundles {

	SslBundle getBundle(String bundleName) throws NoSuchSslBundleException;


An example of using SslBundles to retrieve and apply an SSLContext might look like this:

public class MyComponent {

    public MyComponent(SslBundles sslBundles) {
        SslBundle sslBundle = sslBundles.getBundle("client");
        SSLContext sslContext = sslBundle.createSslContext();
        // do something with the created sslContext


Securing REST Clients

An exciting new area of SSL capabilities that is enabled in Spring Boot 3.1 is the configuration of REST clients. Spring Boot support for customizing a RestTemplate or WebClient now includes the ability to apply an SSL bundle to secure the connection between the client and the REST service.

RestTemplateBuilder has a new setSslBundle() method that accepts an SSL bundle retrieved from the auto-configured SslBundles, as shown in this example:

public class MyService {

    private final RestTemplate restTemplate;

    public MyService(RestTemplateBuilder restTemplateBuilder, SslBundles sslBundles) {
        this.restTemplate = restTemplateBuilder.setSslBundle(sslBundles.getBundle("mybundle")).build();


A WebClientSsl interface lets an SSL bundle be retrieved and applied to a WebClient.Builder, as shown in this example:

public class MyService {

    private final WebClient webClient;

    public MyService(WebClient.Builder webClientBuilder, WebClientSsl ssl) {
        this.webClient = webClientBuilder.baseUrl("").apply(ssl.fromBundle("mybundle")).build();


Securing Data Service Connections

Spring Boot makes it easy to configure client libraries used to connect from an application to data services. These client libraries are good examples of APIs that use any of the three levels of Java security and SSL APIs for configuration.

Prior to 3.1, some form of SSL configuration was available for many of the data services for which Spring Boot provides auto-configuration. However, the level of support and the properties used for configuration were inconsistent across services. Most data services auto-configuration properties now have similar ssl structures, providing a much higher level of consistency across services:

  • Cassandra - spring.cassandra.ssl
  • Couchbase - spring.couchbase.env.ssl
  • Elasticsearch - spring.elasticsearch.restclient.ssl
  • MongoDB -
  • Redis -

Most services have a *.ssl.enabled property which will enable SSL support in the client library using trust material contained in the Java runtime cacerts. A *.ssl.bundle property applies a named SSL bundle to enable client library SSL support with custom trust material from the bundle. This makes the configuration much more consistent and allows for the same trust material to be applied to multiple connections, reducing the amount of properties or YAML configuration.

To provide this level of consistency, some previous SSL-related properties have been deprecated. See the configuration properties changelog for more details.

JDBC connections are an obvious omission from this list. We plan to apply the SSL bundle approach to JDBC connections in an upcoming Spring Boot release.

Securing Embedded Web Servers

All embedded web servers supported by Spring Boot can be configured to secure incoming connections with SSL by using server.ssl.* properties. Java keystore files have been supported since the inception of Spring Boot, and PEM-encoded files have been supported since 2.7.

The number of properties under the server.ssl prefix has grown over time, and the lack of structure made it difficult to tell which properties could be used together and which were mutually exclusive. The previous server.ssl.* properties continue to be supported, but a new server.ssl.bundle property can be used to apply a configured SSL bundle to an embedded web server.

The following two examples are functionally the same:

    key-alias: “server”
    key-password: “keysecret”
    key-store: "classpath:server.p12"
    key-store-password: "storesecret"
    client-auth: NEED    
            alias: "server"
            password: “keysecret”
            location: "classpath:server.p12"
            password: "storesecret"
    bundle: “web-server”
    client-auth: NEED

The older structure is more concise, but the newer structure reduces the chance of mis-configuration and allows the same SSL bundle to be used on multiple connections.

Similar changes have been made to the management.server.ssl and spring.rsocket.server.ssl properties.

Future Work

We really hope you find SSL bundles a useful feature of Spring Boot 3.1. If you find any other technologies that you think we should add SSL support for, please raise a GitHub issue and we'll consider it for a future release.

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